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Computers have changed the way the world works, right from complex calculations to getting ourselves entertained it has it all wrapped. Computers are very important for this technological era and with the increase in digitalization, computers are now everywhere. But these computers are made up of certain important components and without them, these are meaningless. One of the most important components of these computers is the Input and Output Devices. Here in this article, we have discussed about the Input Devices of computers in detail along with Input Device definitions, examples, and more.
What is an Input Device?
An input device is a computer device or hardware that allows the user to provide data, input, and instructions to the computer system. Data is provided to the computer system in a raw format which is then converted into a computer-understandable language by the input devices. The central processing unit then processes the data to produce output. In other words, an input device is a kind of peripheral device that helps the users communicate with the computer system.
Input Devices of Computer
Hardware devices are used to provide instructions or feed data to computer systems. The instruction or data inserted during this process is called “Input” while the device used to input the data is known as an input device of a computer. These input devices of a computer can be further divided into different categories such as pointing devices, keyboard devices, drawing devices, recognition devices, etc. Some of the commonly used Input devices are-
- Light Pen
- Digital Camera
- Track Ball
- Bar Code Reader
- Optical Character Reader
Examples of Input Devices
Input device helps the user to send data, information, or control signals to a computer system. The Central Processing Unit (CPU) of a computer system receives input and processes it to produce the output. Now that we know what are input devices and their definition, let us know some examples of Input Devices. Here in this section, we have discussed some of the Input Devices in detail along with the tasks they perform.
Keyboards are one of the primary input devices which helps in entering data and commands in a computer or any electronic device by pressing keys. A keyboard has a different set of keys for letters, numbers, functions, and characters. A keyboard is connected to a computer system through a USB cable (for a wired keyboard) or through Bluetooth (for a wireless keyboard). Most of the keyboards are in two sizes, 84 keys or 101/102 keys but nowadays many brands are making keyboards with 104 or 108 keys for Windows.
Laptops come with an inbuilt keyboard which makes the laptop smaller and lighter. Whereas most modern devices such as smartphones, tablets, etc come with onscreen virtual keyboards that help to input data into a computer. Before keyboards were discovered, paper tapes and paper cards were used to give instructions to computers.
The mouse is a commonly used input device that helps the user to interact with the computer system through a process called “point and click”. This hand-held input device is used to move cursor or pointer across the screen. It works on a flat surface and has left and right button with a wheel in between to perform the tasks. The left button helps to select items whereas the right button helps to display the menu. The wheel in between helps to scroll the page up and down while surfing or reading documents.
Laptops come with an in-built touchpad which serves the purpose of a mouse. You can control the movement of the cursor in a laptop by moving your fingers over the touchpad.
A Joystick is also a pointing device like a mouse which is widely used to play games on a computer. Joysticks are made up of a stick with a spherical base wherein the base is fitted in a socket which allows free movement of the stick. The cursor or pointer is controlled on the screen through the movement of the stick.
C. B. Mirick invented the first Joystick at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Joysticks are of different types such as displacement Joysticks, finger-operated Joysticks, hand operated, isometric joystick, and more. The major difference between a Joystick and a mouse is that, in joystick, the cursor keeps moving in the direction of the joystick unless it is upright, whereas, in mouse, the cursor moves only when the mouse moves.
A light pen is an input device of a computer which looks same as a pen. A light pen is a very sensitive device and consists of a photocell and an optical system placed in a small tube. Also the tip of the light pen contains a light-sensitive detector that enables the user to point or select objects on the display screen. These devices are mainly used to select on screen items, draw pictures and write freely in document files using a computer screen. When the tip of the light pen is moved in the computer screen while pressing the button on the pen, corresponding signals are sent to the CPU. The first light pen was invented around 1955 as a part of the Whirlwind project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The microphone or a “mic” is a type of an input device which helps the user to input voice in a computer system. Mics read sounds from the surroundings and then convert the analog sound waves into electrical signals. The microphone receives the sound vibrations and converts them into audio signals or sends to a recording medium. The audio signals are also converted into digital data and are then stored in the computer. The microphone helps the user to telecommunicate with others. Sounds can be added to presentations and with webcams for vide conferencing with the help of microphones.
A scanner is an important input device that helps us to convert a hard copy document into a digital file (.jpeg, .png, .pdf, etc). The technology behind Scanner is called Optical technology which basically reads characters or pictures from a paper and transfers them to the computer drive for further processing. A scanned image can further be edited, printed, emailed, etc. Scanners are available in different types that perform different functions. Some common examples of a Scanner are photo scanner, flatbed scanner, drum scanner, sheet- fed scanner, etc.
Digital cameras are input devices that record images (and sometimes videos) digitally. Instead of using film, digital cameras use an image sensor chip to capture images. The first step in using a digital camera as an input device for computer is to connect it to it. Using a USB cable, a memory card reader, or a wireless connection can accomplish this. Using photo editing software or a file manager, you can transfer the images and videos from the camera to the computer.